Covid-19 Fatigue and Burnout: How to Manage Those Feelings of Exhaustion
February 25, 2022
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A Message from Doctor Robert MacArthur, CCA’s Chief Medical Officer
It’s hard to remember what it was like before the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past two years, the way we socialize, work, and live our lives has changed. Many of us experience fear, anxiety, depression, or loneliness. We have lost our sense of stability and security and our connection to family members and friends.
COVID-19 burnout has also set in.
In my role as Chief Medical Officer at CCA, I’ve seen firsthand the physical and emotional impact of pandemic burnout on healthcare workers and patients alike. After two long years, you may be tired of social distancing from those you love, masking in public, or getting vaccines.
Your feelings are normal. But as mandates and restrictions are lifted, staying vigilant will be critical. By pushing through those feelings of pandemic fatigue and burnout, we may finally have a chance at putting this chapter behind us.
Getting back to normal
In a recent statement, Doctor Anthony Fauci said that the full-blown pandemic phase of COVID-19 may be ending. What does that mean? As of this month, over 200 million people in the United States, or around two thirds of the population, are fully vaccinated. This has led to a decrease of infections and hospitalizations in many parts of the country.
These are great signs of progress, and a glimmer of hope that we may soon be reaching the “endemic” stage of the virus. This is the stage when COVID-19 will become more manageable, like the flu.
But COVID-19 will likely be with us for years to come. This virus will continue to put people 65 or older or those with chronic conditions at risk. If we ignore expert guidance, COVID-19 will continue to threaten our communities.
While staying vigilant is important, coping with pandemic burnout requires a healthy dose of self-care. More than ever, it’s important to stay focused on your well-being. I encourage you to make time to focus on your emotional health and do what it takes to go about your everyday life safely.
What can you do to prevent or better manage the effects of COVID-19 fatigue and burnout?
Here are tips for staying positive and safe in the weeks, months, and years to come.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle. When you are feeling alone or stressed, it is easy to fall back on unhealthy habits, such as overeating and avoiding physical activity. To overcome burnout, it’s important to continue with a healthy diet and, if you’re able to, exercise as often as possible. Even a short walk a few times a week can help.
Understand your risks. Unhealthy behaviors, like smoking or drinking alcohol to cope with your feelings, can easily turn into unhealthy addictions. These behaviors can multiply and impact your health, your stability, and even your relationships. Find healthy ways to cope, like journaling your feelings or engaging in safe, yet fun, activities that give you that mental break you need.
Establish positive routines. During times of uncertainty, sticking to a schedule can help. Try eating regular meals, choosing a bedtime that allows you to get enough sleep, and setting aside time for reading or relaxation.
Find ways to remain social. When it comes to staying connected, sometimes there is nothing better than a good old-fashioned phone call. It’s a great way to hear the voices you love most—children, grandchildren, siblings, and friends. Also, consider contacting local organizations, such as community centers, to see if they offer ways to interact with others through socially distanced events.
Reduce stress. There are some simple methods proven to help lower stress and anxiety. Deep breathing and mild stretching can work wonders. Also, look for safe ways to keep doing the activities you enjoy. If you’re feeling stuck, try a new hobby. Learning something new will give you a sense of accomplishment and growth, which can reduce stress and anxiety.
Avoid triggers. Social media and TV can deliver a daily dose of fear and frustration that will only increase your feelings of burnout. Staying informed is important but be sure to pick and choose the right sources and frequency of information. Think to yourself, “is this information coming from an expert source? Is this information helpful to me?”
Stay positive. Consider keeping a journal of positive things that happen to you or things that make you feel grateful. This practice can help you break through the mental fog, and you may discover that you’re experiencing some positive changes during the pandemic.
Count on CCA to provide uncommon care®
Here’s one final word of reassurance. I want you to know that CCA is here for you during these challenging times. We address the medical, behavioral health, and social support needs of our members in ways that go beyond health coverage. Everything we do is aimed at improving the well-being of people with the most significant health needs. We call this uncommon care, and it’s helped us to deliver uncommon results for our members—even throughout the pandemic.
No one can say for sure how much longer the pandemic will affect our lives. But one thing is certain: we are all going through this together, and we will get through it together.
Thank you for placing your trust in CCA.
CCA is here for you during these challenging times
Our members can call our Nurse Advice Line for help and support.
Massachusetts members can call: 866-610-2273 (TTY 711)
Rhode Island members can call: 833-346-9222 (TTY 711)